Cheers to Homebrew!

Beer buffs and lager lovers that brew their own beverages at home can now enjoy the fruits of their labor with others.
Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill that ends a nearly 80-year ban on sampling homebrew products outside the home.
Naperville resident Mike Uchima has been brewing beer at home for about 18 years and his wife, five years.

“He doesn’t always brew what I want to drink,” said Eileen. “So this way I have control over if I want to do more things with free or darker beers, I have the freedom to do my own.”

Mike is part of a number of homebrewing groups, including the American Homebrewers Association and the Plainfield Ale and Lager enthusiasts,” or “PALE,” which began in 2010.

The club, now 150 members strong, meets the first Thursday of every month to share their recipes and talk about upcoming events but previously couldn’t legally bring their beverages with them. Thanks to house bill 630, now an Illinois law, that’s all changed.

“Essentially what this bill has allowed us to do is basically do all the things we want to do,” said Ed Malnar, Past President and founding member of PALE. “We’re hobbyists and love brewing homebrew. We love sharing homebrew. It’s a very social thing and it’s only natural that we spread the joy if you will.”

Over the past year, the group worked with legislatures, lobbying to overturn the ban on consuming homebrew beer outside of the home, a restriction that dates back to the prohibition era.

“What this new law will do now is allow us to share this with the public and with our clubs. Hold tasting events, judging competitions. So it really expands the horizon,” said Brand Wright, also a PALE member and owner of Chicago Brew Werks in Plainfield.

Wright has been brewing his own beer just about since he was of the legal age to drink it.

Though it’s still illegal to sell homebrew, wright can now legally offer free two-ounce samples to each person in his brew supply shop.

Wright also hopes that customers return to the store with samples of their own homebrew to share.

“We can sit with them one on one and give them advice, some recommendations on how to make that beer maybe more to the style they were shooting for or find an off-flavor and get to the bottom of it,” said Wright.

Other stipulations of the law: Homebrewers must be 21 and event organizers must pay a $25 fee for a state-issued permit to allow homebrew samples.

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